Until Friday, Caleb Farley’s back surgery meant nothing in Philadelphia. Now, it might mean everything.
The Eagles’ cornerback quest was going to be a Day Two concern in next month’s draft. After general manager Howie Roseman’s move down from No. 6 to No. 12, the position is now front and center.
And that means Farley is very much in play, as are the other two CBs believed to be in the top 15 – Alabama’s Patrick Surtain III, who is scheduled to talk with the media during the Crimson Tide’s second pro day in as many weeks on Monday, and South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn, who spoke to the media prior to his pro day last week.
Northwestern’s Greg Newsome (6-0, 192) could be a surprise candidate.
“My personality off the field I'm one of the nicest, sweetest guys,” said Newsome. “On the field, I flip a switch. I'm a competitor. I hate to lose. I do have that chip. Even at practice, I play so hard all the time. I think I was slept on and I still think I am - in this draft, in college football.
“Every single down I have that chip and remember where I came from. Even being recruited as a high schooler I was slept on and I always have that in the back of my mind.”
Surtain (6-2, 202) and Horn (6-1, 200) are legacy prospects, meaning their fathers played in the NFL.
Surtain’s father, Patrick, played 11 years in the NFL at cornerback, with three straight Pro Bowl and All-Pro year with the Dolphins from 2002-04 and, as a second-round pick in 1998 out of Southern Mississippi, recorded 37 career interceptions.
Horn’s father was a receiver for 12 years, making four Pro Bowl during seven years with the Saints. He was a fifth-round pick in 1996 out of Itawamba (Miss.) Community College who had 58 career touchdowns.
“I feel it will be a big thing for us, being a football family,” said Horn. “My dad played a long time in the league and got me used to the NFL. That will be fun, being able to live out my dream and my dad seeing me play in the same league he dominated in.”
None of these corners lack confidence, as you would expect playing a position where you are going to get beat sometimes but have to have the mindset to forget about it and move on to the next play without allowing it to snowball.
None of the first-round corner candidates, however, have had the back surgery that Farley recently had. The Virginia Tech product talked about it at his pro day last week.
Farley (6-1, 207) said the injury occurred during training in August of 2019 while executing a deadlift in the weight room. He herniated an L5 and suffered a bulging S1 and opted to have microdiscectomy surgery last week.
“I chose to move forward and do the discectomy on the L5 herniation (after initially having the injury nearly two years ago), which gave me immediate relief after,” he said.
“Still had some lingering sciatica symptoms that I felt but did not limit me physically in any way. It was something I was informed in and trusting that it was just post-operating surgery and would go away over time. I did a great job managing over a year but that bulge is still in my S1 and unfortunately, I irritated it a month ago, which caused me to pull back on my training.
“I was trying to cut back and manage the inflammation to come out here on Pro Day and put up some crazy numbers but after talking to Dr. Watkins and getting the MRI and getting things
looked at it we were advised it would be best to go ahead and fix this problem so I will be ready for training camp and ready for the season. It was not a reoccurring disk or anything like that. What I had previously worked on is still intact. It was great news. I’m actually excited about this.”
Will other teams feel the same way?
“That’s for the media,” said Faley, who chose not to play in 2020. “When the teams look at the imaging and get the real information, I don’t think it will be an issue. I accepted my draft invite, so I’ll be in Cleveland. If a team wants the best corner in the draft, they’ll come find me.”
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.